JOE SATRIANI - CD 

SHAPESHIFTING

Sony Music Japan 

It takes a master of their instrument in the Rock world to sustain interest over a long time when releasing instrumental albums. Joe Satriani is undoubtedly one of those masters and Shapeshifting is just as good as his debut, Not Of This Earth, which made the world sit up and listen way back in 1986. This, his seventeenth studio album, is the latest in that long run of consistently good releases.

 

There are certain things you expect from a Joe Satriani and all the ingredients are here. Variety, original compositions, fun bits, quirky moments and of course the sublime guitar playing by the man himself. As well as that, this time we have a core band of drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), bassist Chris Cheney (Jane's Addiction) and keyboard player Eric Codue. Throw into the mix producerJim Scott who worked with Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and you have quite a collaboration of seasoned contributors. Joe has taken advantage of all this input and come up with yet another, very enjoyable, never-gets-boring, release.

 

Usually when I review a new album, I put it on and play it from track 1 right through but this time I couldn’t resist jumping to a couple of songs as the titles were too tempting. Track 4 was all I had hoped for and very descriptive of the piece as was track 7 which goes right back to his days with Squares, the band he had forty years ago. Having listened to those two and hoping that I hadn’t jumped straight into the best two tracks by accident, I then went to the start and played the album in full. Thankfully, my fears proved unfounded as my stereo system rolled out a volume of instrumentals, each one as good as the previous and next. Sprinkled throughout are moments of sheer joy and emotion and as we have seen before on countless occasions, Joe knows when to let rip or hold back appropriately for the piece. This is what makes his albums so listenable; he has no ego, only a sense of pride in what he puts out.

 

Joe has come a long way since his days with Squares. He is one of the world’s greatest Rock guitarists, recognized by his peers and celebrated by the elite. He has however never lost sight of what drove him originally and as a result, he is still at the top of his game as this album shows. Tracks such as Waiting, All My Friends Are Here and Here The Blue River have so much emotion and atmosphere in them there really is no one else to equal him on the guitar. Others may be faster, some may be more popular, but none are the combination of everything that make consummate musician that Joe is.

 

Track List

1. Shapeshifting

2. Big Distortion

3. All For Love

4. Ali Farka, Dick Dale, An Alien And Me

5. Teardrops

6. Perfect Dust

7. Nineteen Eighty

8. All My Friends Are Here

9. Spirits, Ghosts And Outlaws

10. Falling Stars

11. Waiting

12. Here The Blue River

13. Yesterday’s Yesterday

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DREAM THEATER - CD + BD

DISTANT MEMORY

Sony Music Japan 

Aside from their own official bootleg series, Dream Theater have released eight live albums to date so the first question is, what does a ninth live album have to offer? It has been six years since their last live offering and in that time they have released two excellent studio albums also now changed labels. This set  - which was due to be performed in Japan this year – is a celebration of their highly acclaimed 1999 release Metropolis Part 2 – Scenes From A Memory and their most recent studio album, Distance Over Time (2019), an album that many people cited as a return to form.

 

The show was performed in two sets and first thing you notice is that the sound is heavier and there are more guts in the delivery of the material. This is more noticeable in the Metropolis half but the newer material benefits from it as well. Of the non-Metropolis songs, A Nightmare to Remember is the standout track for sound, instrumentation and feel but there are lovely moments scattered throughout and if this had only been an audio release, I would have said yes, it is worth adding to your collection. However, the real reason to buy this is the inclusion of the video, on Blu-Ray, in 5.1 surround sound.  Shot over two nights (using different camera angles on both nights) the picture quality and editing is pure eye-candy, aided with the advancement of video projection over the last twenty years. It’s bright, colourful, dynamic both visually and sonically and cuts to all the right players at the right time. A visual delight and to top it all off, the five discs come in two tri-fold digipaks housed in a slipcase, beautifully decorated with very British artwork, a twenty page full-colour booklet and an eight-page Japanese insert.

 

So, what does a ninth live album have to offer? Well, an awful lot as it turns out.

 

Track List

CD Disc 1

1 Untethered Angel

2 A Nightmare to Remember

3 Fall into the light

4 Bar Stour Warrior

5 In the Presence of Enemies-Part 1

6 Pale Blue Dot

 

CD Disc 2

1 Scenes Live Intro

2  Scene 1: Regression

3  Scene 2: I. Overture 1928

4  Scene 2: II. Strange Deja Vu

5  Scene 3: I. Through My Words

6  Scene 3: II. Fatal Tragedy

7 Scene 4: Beyond This Life

8 Scene 5: Through Her Eyes

 

CD Disc 3

1 Scene 6: Home

2 Scene 7: I. The Dance of Eternity

3 Scene 7: II. One Last Time

4 Scene 8: The Spirit Carry's On

5 Scene 9: Finaly Free

6 At Witz End

7 Paralyzed

 

BD Disc 1

1 Atlas

2 Untethered Angel

3 A Nightmare to Remember

4 Fall into the light

5 Bar Stour Warrior

6 In the Presence of Enemies-Part 1

7 Pale blue dot

 

BD Disc 2

1 Scenes Live Intro

2 Scene 1: Regression

3 Scene 2: I. Overture 1928

4 Scene 2: II. Strange Deja Vu

5 Scene 3: I. Through My Words

6 Scene 3: II. Fatal Tragedy

7 Scene 4: Beyond This Life

8 Scene 5: Through Her Eyes

9 Scene 6: Home

10 Scene 7: I. The Dance of Eternity

11 Scene 7: II. One Last Time

12 Scene 8: The Spirit Carry's On

13 Scene 9: Finaly Free

14 At Witz End

15 Paralyzed

16 Behind The Scenes